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SUPREME COURT SAYS NO TO N.C. CONGRESSIONAL MAP

The high court has upheld a ruling striking down the congressional map approved by North Carolina lawmakers after the 2010 census because it relied too heavily on racial considerations in drawing the new lines. Although the May 22 ruling will have little impact because the map was already changed after the state lost in a lower court, it could affect a pending case in Texas and curtail the ability of GOP majorities in Southern statehouses to maximize safe GOP seats by packing black voters into a small number of districts. (Posted May 23)

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CORRINE BROWN CONVICTED OF MISUSING CHARITY FUNDS

Corrine Brown

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, an icon in North Florida’s African-American community who served 24 years in Congress, is likely headed to prison after being found guilty of 18 fraud and tax charges related to a scheme to divert money from a fraudulent scholarship charity to pay personal expenses. No sentencing date has been set, but, given the number and magnitude of the charges, the 70-year-old former Democratic congresswoman could potentially spend much of the rest of her life behind bars.  (Posted May 12)

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5 SOUTHERN GOP HOUSE MEMBERS OPPOSE OBAMACARE REPEAL

Hurd

Comstock

While five Southern GOP members defied party leaders and President Trump to oppose a bill to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a new blueprint for U.S. health care, five other GOP lawmakers holding potentially vulnerable seats took a different tack and supported it. Two of the Southern GOP no votes came from Will Hurd of Texas and Barbara Comstock of Virginia, who represent districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. A third lawmaker from a district Clinton carried, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, also voted no but is retiring in 2018. The other two Republicans who voted against the bill, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Walter Jones of North Carolina, did so because they thought the repeal measure didn’t go far enough. Among the potentially vulnerable members voting yes were Florida’s Carlos Curbelo, Brian Mast and Mario Diaz-Balart; John Culberson of Texas; and Ted Budd of North Carolina. (Posted May 4)

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POPE, NORMAN MAKE GOP RUNOFF FOR S.C. 5TH DISTRICT

Norman

Pope

State legislators Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman survived a crowded Republican field in the battle for South Carolina’s vacant 5th District U.S. House seat and will now face off in a May 16 runoff, with the winner facing Democrat Archie Parnell on June 20. Pope narrowly edged out Norman in the first round of voting on May 2; Parnell took 71 percent to win the Democratic primary outright. The winner of the GOP runoff will be considered a heavy favorite to capture the seat Mick Mulvaney gave up to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. However, Parnell, who spend 20 years as a managing director at investment giant Goldman Sachs, brings a personal fortune to the race. (Posted May 3)

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ROS-LEHTINEN TO RETIRE , PUTTING GOP-HELD SEAT IN PLAY

Ros-Lehtinen

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, dean of Florida’s House delegation and the first Cuban-born member of Congress, says she won’t seek re-election in 2018 to her 27th District seat, closing three decades of service that have made her an icon in Miami’s politically powerful Cuban-American community. Republicans will now have to defend a seat from a district Donald Trump lost by 20 points but which returned Ros-Lehtinen to office term after term. The moderate congresswoman has been at odds with Trump and members of her own party, but she insisted neither the current Washington political climate nor her district’s increasing Democratic tilt prompted her retirement. (Posted May 1)

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OSSOFF, HANDEL IN RUNOFF FOR GEORGIA 6TH DISTRICT SEAT

Karen Handel

Jon Ossoff

Democrat Jon Ossoff’s insurgent campaign to flip Georgia’s 6th District U.S. House seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs fell short of securing a majority in an April 18 special election, setting up a high-stakes showdown with Republican Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff. With all of the precincts reporting, Ossoff had 48.1 percent of the vote, followed by Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, at 19.8 percent. Bob Gray, a technology executive who ran as a Donald Trump ally, finished third at 10.8 percent. (Posted April 19)

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STOCKMAN BLAMES “DEEP STATE” FOR CORRUPTION INDICTMENT

Stockman

Federal prosecutors are blaming former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman and an aide for an ongoing scheme to bilk $1.25 million from charitable foundations and divert it for personal use. But Stockman, in the dock, is blaming the “deep state” for his legal woes. Stockman, a Republican who served two stints in the House before losing a Senate primary in 2014, is facing charges of mail and wire fraud, money laundering, violating campaign finance laws and filing a false tax return. Stockman, arrested while trying to catch a flight to the Middle East, said the “deep state” was trying to exact revenge for his longtime opposition to the IRS, according to the Houston Chronicle. (Posted March 30)

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COLE CALLS ON TRUMP TO APOLOGIZE FOR WIRETAP CLAIMS

Cole

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, who serves as a deputy whip in the House GOP leadership, told reporters that there is “no indication” that Donald Trump’s allegation that Barack Obama had his phones tapped during the presidential campaign is true. “It’s not a charge I would ever have made. And frankly, unless you can produce some pretty compelling proof, then I think … President Obama is owed an apology,” said Cole. “If (Obama) didn’t do it, we shouldn’t be reckless in accusations that he did.” Cole represents Oklahoma’s 4th District, which stretches from the southern Oklahoma City suburbs south to the Texas border. Trump carried the district by 38 points in November. (Posted March 18)

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13 SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS BOYCOTT TRUMP INAUGURAL

southern states smThirteen of the 40 Southern Democrats in the U.S. House have announced that they will not take part in January 20 inauguration of Donald Trump. Lawmakers from Florida, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are among the no-shows. All of the boycotting members represent urban or black-majority districts that were carried by Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump’s tweets castigating U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, for announcing an inauguration boycott seemed to particularly rankle some of the members opting not to attend; his reaction was called “repugnant,” “ignorant,” and “insensitive and foolish.” (Posted January 18)

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‘CAJUN JOHN WAYNE’ SCORES OUTSIDER WIN IN LOUISIANA

Higgins

Republicans captured both U.S. House seats that were up in December 10 runoffs in Louisiana. In the 3rd District, Clay Higgins, a tough-talking former deputy sheriff and Internet celebrity dubbed the “Cajun John Wayne,” surprised Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, a veteran of the Louisiana political scene. In the 4th District, Republican State Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier Parish defeated Marshall Jones, an attorney from Shreveport. With those wins, the GOP will hold five of Louisiana’s six U.S. House seats and 114 of the South’s 154 seats. (Posted December 11)

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DEMOCRATS MAKE 2-SEAT GAIN IN SOUTHERN U.S. HOUSE RACES

election-central-16Democrats made a slight, two-seat net gain in Southern Republican U.S. House seats in the November 8 election, taking down two Republican incumbents in Florida but coming up short in targeted GOP-held seats in Virginia and Texas. Republicans also picked up an open seat along Florida’s Treasure Coast and kept an open seat in Louisiana, where two Republicans will face each other in a December 10 runoff. Republicans still hold a commanding lead over Democrats in House seats in the South, 113 to 40, with another seat in Louisiana still to be determined. (Posted November 9)

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